Bishop Slates Continue Trend Toward Women

By Kirk Petersen

Three dioceses recently announced the candidates in their upcoming bishop elections: Iowa, Nevada, and Pittsburgh. One detail jumps out from a glance at the slates: Nine of the 12 candidates are women.

(It was nine out of 10 before two male candidates were nominated by petition in Pittsburgh. There were no petition candidates in the other dioceses.)

The nominations continue a trend toward female bishops that has been accelerating in recent years.

TLC first took note of this phenomenon in 2018, when Correspondent G. Jeffrey MacDonald reported that through 2017, there had never been a bishop election where all of the candidates were women. In 2018, there were four such slates. After all the elections were held for the year, five women and five men had brand-new croziers. The 50 percent female cohort shattered the previous high-water mark of 20 percent female, way back in 1996.

In 2019, Mary Frances Schjonberg of Episcopal News Service published an extensively reported article on the flood of female bishops. At the time of her mid-year article, six of the eight bishops elected had been women. Things balanced out a bit as the year progressed, leading to a full-year tally of eight women and six men — 66 percent female.

The pandemic postponed several episcopal retirements and elections, so there were only five new bishops elected in 2020: two men and three women, or 60 percent female.

Thus far in 2021, only one new bishop has been chosen — a woman. The Rev. Canon Ruth M. Woodliff-Stanley was elected bishop diocesan in South Carolina on May 1, and she will be consecrated on October 2.

Statistics are interesting, but of course at the end of the day, what matters most is the quality of the individual. Here’s a look at the individual candidates:


Three women have been nominated to be the X Bishop of Iowa. The election is scheduled for July 31, and consecration for December 18. The candidates selected by the nominating committee are:

  • The Rev. Jennifer N. Andrews-Weckerly, rector, Hickory Neck Episcopal Church, Toano, Virginia
  • The Rev. Betsey Monnot, priest-in-charge, St. Clement’s Episcopal Church in Rancho Cordova, California; serves as a congregational consultant and retreat leader
  • The Rev. Elizabeth Duff Popplewell, rector, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Cedar Falls, Iowa


Three women and a Native American man have been nominated to be the XI Bishop of Nevada. The election is scheduled for October 8, and consecration for March 2022. The candidates selected by the nominating committee are:

  • The Rev. Elizabeth Bonforte Gardner, rector, St. Mark’s, Alexandria, Virginia
  • The Rev. Canon Holly Herring, canon precentor, Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, Phoenix, Arizona
  • The Rev. Julia McCray-Goldsmith, priest in charge, Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, San Jose, California
  • The Rev. Canon Robert Two Bulls, missioner for Indian work and multicultural ministries, Diocese of Minnesota, and vicar of All Saints Indian Mission, Minneapolis


Three women initially were nominated to be the IX Bishop of Pittsburgh. Two men were added to the slate by petition. The election is scheduled for June 26, and consecration for November 13. The candidates selected by the nominating committee are:

  • The Very Rev. Kim L. Coleman, rector, Trinity Episcopal Church, Arlington, Virginia
  • The Rev. Dr. Ketlen A. Solak, rector, Brandywine Collaborative Ministries, Wilmington, Delaware
  • The Rev. Diana L. Wilcox, rector, Christ Church in Bloomfield & Glen Ridge, Glen Ridge, New Jersey

The nominees by petition, pending completion of background checks, are:

  • The Rev. Canon Scott A. Gunn, executive director, Forward Movement, Cincinnati, Ohio
  • The Rev. Jeffrey D. Murph, rector, St. Thomas Church, Oakmont, Pennsylvania


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